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Published:March 13th, 2008 14:41 EST
Justice League of America: How To Make The Movie Awesome

Justice League of America: How To Make The Movie Awesome

By Sean Stubblefield

Warner Brothers, in conjunction with DC Comics, is preparing to produce a Justice League of America movie. Which has me both excited (because I love JLA) and tentatively worried (because superhero movies tend to be poorly done). I really want and hope for this film to be done right. On concept alone, it has a lot of potential to be magnificent.

Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Flash, Martian Manhunter, Aquaman.

These characters are legendary, iconic, mythic... demi-gods.

As a fan of superhero comic books, cinema and great story telling, I’ve compiled a list of vital elements which will need to be integrated into the Justice League movie to prevent it from being lame and irrelevant. These are not polite suggestions…


* Hire talented and innovative writers, director in conference with a DC universe consultant who know these characters and source material, as well as respect the sanctity of the story and characters

* Take the subject matter and story seriously; “Comic Book” does not imply childish or cheesy

* Assume the audience is mature and intelligent; speak up to us, not down; absolutely do not cater to the lowest common denominator… respect the audience, respect the script

* Give the film crew the latitude and resources to tell the story right-- NO petty Studio meddling

* Do not sacrifice story to spectacle

* Cast actors who actually look like and can accurately embody/ portray the characters

(see fan films: World’s Finest, Dead End, Batman Legends and Patient J)

* This is the Justice League, not the Junior League: characters must over age 25

* Do not treat the movie as an anxty teen drama WB TV soap opera like Smallville or Dawson’s Creek

* Make the costumes look authentic and respectable, not thrift shop Halloween stuff

* Do not make an origin story, neither for each character nor as a team; the JLA should be shown as already being established and the characters familiar with each other from years of working together; the audience is already familiar with the basics of the characters, and we can learn who they are as they deal with each other and plot complications

* Make the movie epic, meaningful and about something; not simply a marketing and merchandizing platform, or CGI display

* Feature plot and characters over special effects and fight scenes

* Characters should be realistic, believable and well developed, as well as consistent with their comic book depictions (in terms of behaviors, attitudes and idiosyncrasies)

* Every main character must be useful, relevant and have a logical plot driven reason for being in the story; utilize each according to their particular abilities; give all characters a good reason to be in the story and on the team

* These are characters of ideals, integrity and honor: show it!; should appear impressive

* Do not over-populate the cast— the more characters there are, the less attention and involvement each one gets; have only one antagonist and restrict the JLA roster for the story to no more than 10 members, focusing on the primary characters

* Character depth and development matter

* Depict the heroes as iconic, and the story as epic/ mythic

* Do not tie this film into Batman Begins or Superman Returns: recast Batman and Superman (don’t use Christian Bale or Brandon Routh); including them would force a compliance with the Batman Begins and Superman Returns universes, which are incompatible with each other. Plus, doing so would “legitimize” Superman Returns-- which is lame. Bale is an amazing actor and an excellent Batman, but including him incorporates his Batman movie (at least indirectly), which may be too constricting on letting JLA be its own movie

* Rather than a villain for their adversary, the “big bad” should involve a crisis/event/ mystery/adventure

* Whatever the conflict or villain, it should be something that requires and is worthy of the JLA-- not something that any one or three of them could resolve, but something that necessitates a team effort, and engages their distinct skills and dispositions

* Characters and the reality portrayed must be consistent with the DC universe, both in detail and spirit

* Make the story a mythic fable by way of being a social commentary and morality play that seeks to encourage and inspire excellence, hope and wonder in the audience

* Do not duplicate or imitate stories or plot points done in the comics; make this unique and original

* Portray the heroes as real and authentic individuals, not mere archetypes or utilitarian role fillers

* If there is a villain, do not make him/her clichéd, stereotypical or any less realistic than the heroes

* Character essence is more important than maintaining canon

* This is the JLA-- not the Watchmen, not the X-Men, and not the Heroes or Smallville TV show

* This isn't the Superfriends, either

* Respect and protect the movie going experience: make this movie a powerful and potent social/ cultural event akin to The Matrix and Lord of the Rings

* The message and perspective should be both timely and timeless; tell a story that matters

* Use this film as an opportunity and venue for saying something significant and compelling to the world

* Do not create a trailer that encapsulates and spoils the movie

* Consider these movies: Superman, Superman Returns, Batman and Robin, Batman Returns, Spiderman, X-Men, Hulk, Ghost Rider, Fantastic 4, Daredevil.  DON’T DO THAT! These are examples of what NOT to do.